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News > Colombia

Colombia: Indigenous Leader Murdered in Nariño

  • Violence continues to increase in Colombia against social and indigenous leaders. Aug. 1, 2022.

    Violence continues to increase in Colombia against social and indigenous leaders. Aug. 1, 2022. | Photo: Twitter/@UNoticias

Published 1 August 2022

Authorities of the Awá community denounced the physical and cultural extermination to which illegal armed groups subjected them.

The Institute for Development and Peace Studies (Indepaz) confirmed Monday the murder of a social and indigenous leader in the Colombian department of Nariño (southwest), who became the 109th to be murdered so far in 2022 and the 1336th to lose her life violently since the signing of the Peace Agreement at the end of 2016.

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María Verónica Pai Cabeza was part of the Piguambi Palangala indigenous reservation of the Awá community. She was killed with five shots, and her body was later abandoned on the public road in the Vaquerío village, co-arrangement of Llorente, thus preventing the community from helping her.

She was six months pregnant when she was murdered, and her death left two children orphaned. In a statement rejecting the crime, traditional Awá authorities of the reservation above denounced the physical and cultural extermination to which they are subjected by illegal armed groups disputing the territory.

They said that they have requested governmental support to contain the murders, massacres, forced disappearances, displacements, confinement, and mobility restriction but have only received it in response to the complicit indifference of the Colombian State.

SOS Massacre Awá, in Altaquer, Barbacoas Nariño kill 4 indigenous Awá and 2 more wounded.
 And she was Veronica Pai, six months pregnant; she is the 5th indigenous Awá murdered today in Nariño, in Llorente, Tumaco.
 They are exterminating our indigenous people, and everyone looks the other way!

A representative to the Chamber of Deputies for Nariño, Erick Velasco, called attention to the fact that this department has registered a total of three massacres and 12 murders of leaders in 2022, for which he urged to "put a stop to the violence and provide guarantees for life."

For its part, the Ombudsman's Office warns of the risk that indigenous authorities in Nariño run when they try to exercise their own government, oppose the development of illegal activities, participate in land restitution processes or implement projects to substitute illicit crops.

According to the Ombudsman's Office, indigenous leaders are intimidated and threatened by illegal armed actors in these cases. Among those in the area, they point to the Comandante Alfonso Cano Western Bloc, the Oliver Sinisterra Front, Los Contadores, and the Urias Rondon Mobile Column.

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